Last fall, I went on a tear to get rid of some buckthorn and start replenishing the woods with bee and bird friendly plants (with mostly native plants) in Mr. Neil’s woods. I’ve tried to make a sincere effort to learn my wildflowers and if I’ve learned anything, it’s that if I find a flower very attractive, it’s non-native.
I got some large-flowering trillium last fall and planted that on the slope where the big fallen oak has been hosting sparrows all winter. Alas, it does not appear to be popping up. As I was feeling sorry for myself and wondering what I could do differently, I noticed this, mere feet from where I planted the trillium:
Nodding trillium! Growing all on its own, without me planting it! Has it always been growing on this hill and since I’m always bird watching that I have just never noticed it? That’s quite possible–really, the only wildflower I knew before this was Dutchman’s breeches and Jack-In-The-Pulpit (which we have a ginormous amount of Jack’s this year). Refreshed and excited, I decided to head into the woods to see what other flowers might be popping up and to try and get some warbler shots. I head to the spot where a major buckthorn removal had taken place and found:
A butt load of garlic mustard. One of the reasons I have never bothered to learn my plants is that I didn’t want to know too much. Once you know what the invasive species are and how quickly they spread and how hard they are to get rid of–you begin to see it everywhere and feel a sort of powerlessness about it. This area floods every spring. So if we begin a garlic mustard removal plan, more will just be flooded in. As I was thinking in my head about what I’d read on the Internet regarding garlic mustard removal, I noticed higher up on a hill, a patch of flowers surrounded by garlic mustard…
It was a large patch of native wildflowers including large-flowered trillium and some rue anemone (and if I misidentify any flowers, please someone correct me, I’m still learning and need all the help I can get). I also found spring beauties, wild geranium, phlox, and something I cannot identify in my books and online:
After I finished inspecting the wildflower situation, I headed towards the spot where we find giant puffballs because blue-winged warblers have nested there since I have been coming to Mr. Neil’s. I heard one singing right away, found a spot with some open areas so I could aim my digiscoping equipment and waited. It wasn’t long before a pair of blue-winged warblers were out and foraging. The birds seemed to have a circuit that they would follow from tree to tree, searching for tiny insects. By watching the circuit a few times, I got a sense of their route and could kind of follow along with the scope and digiscope some photos.
The blue-winged warblers were not bothered by my presence whatsoever and a few times foraged for insects about two feet above my head. Blue-wings are an interesting species. They hybridize with golden-winged warblers and may be contributing to the decline of the golden-wing. When blue-winged warblers move into the same range as the golden-wing–the pure golden-wings disappear to hybrids and eventually all become golden-wings. You can read more about it (and maybe even participate in a study) at Cornell’s Golden-winged Warbler Atlas Project.